Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Tankadin UI Guide, Part I

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

The most common email question I get is "I love your UI. It's sessy, just like you. How can I get my UI to be as sessy as yours?"
Too many times, all you get as an answer to someone's UI is a list of Addons. But you never get the instructions on how they got there. Fear not, gentle reader. With my recent Faction Change, I took the opportunity to rebuild my UI from scratch. I'm going to walk you through the process step by step.

What Do We Want?

Before you start, it's a good idea to think about what we want in a good UI. Now, I am a no fuss guy. I like to do a minimum amount of tweaking to get my UI right. Ultimately, any time I spend futzing around with my UI is time I could be having fun in game.

One of my main concerns as a tank is being able to see just what the flux is going on in the raid. I want as much of my screen dedicated to the playing field as I can get away with. My next priority is to see who the boss is targeting at all times. Hopefully that's me (or my co-Tank).

I also want all the pertinent information about incoming damage, upcoming attacks from the Boss, my buffs, important debuffs (hello IMPALE!), and the threat situation. On top of all that, I need something to help me keep track of the buffs I'm responsible for maintaining, both on myself and the raid.

Have a Backup Plan

The idea here is to make restoring your current UI a quick and easy process. To do that, make a copy of your current Addons folder. On my operating system (Windows XP Home) it's in C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\Interface\Addons directory. I'd tell you where it is on other operating systems, but I haven't the first clue where they store it. Anyway, copy that folder to somewhere else on your hard drive. I usually copy it right in the Interface folder with the creative name Copy of Addons. That way if something goes horribly wrong, we can at least get back to how our UI was when we started by copying that folder back to its original location. For me to restore, all I have to do is delete my Addons folder and rename Copy of Addons to Addons and voila, I'm back to where I started.

Go Back to the Beginning

"Vicinni says when the job goes bad, you go back to the beginning. Well, this is where we got the job, so this is the beginning!" - Inigo Montoya

A blog post is always better when you work in a Princess Bride quote.

Shut down WoW and delete your Addon folder, then log back in. This should restore us to the Blizzard Stock UI. For some people, this won't be much of a change. For me, I had almost forgotten what it looked it like.

Basics - Action Bars and General Layout

I am going to recommend you do this step by step and load into the game after each one. That way you can tweak my suggestions to make a UI that is perfect for your style of play.

Let me see!

I am a big fan of SpartanUI. It's an all in one, nearly zero configuration UI that maximizes my screen real estate. With this one addon (really two as it comes with Bartender4 for my action bars) I can accomplish most of my goals.

You can absolutely get more functionality and greater control from assembling the UI elements (character frame, party frame, mini map, etc.) from scratch. It will take several addons and at least two or three hours of customization. I'd rather use a 'turn key' all in one solution like Spartan. YMMV.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that Spartan is in the midst of testing and putting out a new release, but I have found it to be very stable so far. Sometimes there are some minor glitches after a patch, but usually you can find a work around on their forums fairly soon after a patch releases. I'll be sure to blog about any issues I find in 3.3 and the solutions here on the blog.

Spartan is responsible for at least 80% of my UI. It's what puts the bar at the bottom of the screen where all my action bars go. Because it's tied in with Bartender, it also controls the buttons and where they go. It's a simply drag and drop from my spell book to the Bartender bars. Spartan is responsible for the frame that shows my character, what I'm targeting and most importantly, what I am targeting (the Boss) is targeting (hopefully me). Spartan puts the minimap in the bottom center of the screen.

But Spartan won't do it all for you. You need more in the package. Tomorrow, I'll post part two of the UI guide where I go over the 'extras' I feel like I need to make my UI complete.
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